Author: Esther Ingram PM
She promised to make sure he wouldn't cheat. So how did she end up the one he cheated with?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 6 - Words: 11,243 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 01-17-13 - Published: 01-04-13 - id: 3089317
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 6: His civility, her apology
The next few days are filled with a type of longing associated with losing a friend. I am not sure whether I have truly lost Jen, whether she'll never speak to me again, or whether perhaps she is taking her time recuperating from my insensitivity. Whatever it is though, I try not to think about it. Beyond the lecture hall and classroom, my life is filled with many friendly lunches with Jen, Monica, sometimes joining us also, James and Dan.
"I don't know about that," Jen is saying, looking through her bag in annoyance. "I'm almost positive that I put it in here."
We're walking to James's because Jen cannot find her wallet and it has all of her cards and passes, so there's no way this can wait until morning.
"It's fine, I'm sure you just left it in his house." I say dismissively, hurrying across the street. Jen follows me and sighs.
"But I'm sure I had it in Algebra today," she says.
It's late and I'm so tired I can take a nap on the side of the road, but I'm doing this for Jen because I can't let her walk around alone in this hour, and also because I consider her a good friend. Well, at least for the time that we've known each other.
I look around the neighbourhood as Jen knocks on the door, loudly and rapidly, and I am expecting James to come rushing through, annoyed to see us both at this time, and for this reason.
Except it takes him a long while to open the door, and when he does, I realize that it's not James at all. James doesn't have dark hair, or dark eyebrows, or a pointy nose. James's eyes don't grow wide and large when he sees me and he doesn't wear shirts with the sleeves rolled up. James doesn't stand in the doorway shocked to see his sister and her friend.
That's because standing in front of us, holding the door open, is Max.
I gasp and he stops mid-step. I feel every part of my body growing hot like a flame. My stomach churns, my mind spins images uncontrollably and I'm seeing dark dots jumping all around my vision.
"Hey Max!" Jen says, not noticing the tension and awkwardness in the air. "I think I might have left my wallet somewhere in the house."
Max blinks a couple of times before turning towards Jen and gulping. "Yea, uh, come in." He looks at me, "Both of you."
I walk inside, nearly brushing against him as he holds the door open for us. Seeing him is such a shock that I haven't started understanding its implications. Or even meaning. Was Max James's roommate? Did Jen know Max personally? Why didn't they tell me? Why has it never come up?
Jen makes her way through the house, groaning. I find myself standing in the hall, unsure of how to act.
"You can go into the living room," Max says, testily. I look up at him and see the most uncomfortable look on his face.
"That's alright," I say, "I'll just wait for Jen here."
Saying the name "Jen" sets something off in him because he scowls.
"You live with James." I say, putting it as a fact rather than question. Talking to him feels incredibly wrong.
"Yea, uh, I met him on Grey's housing website." Max says, leaning on the wall in front of me. "He put up an ad for this place and-"
"Right," I cut him off. "I didn't know."
"I thought you did," he says, "because you've never come by before." There is a sort of sadness in his voice.
"I never had a reason to."
"Yea, that's true." He says. He then remains silent for a while, and just as Jen comes running back, he opens his mouth to speak again. "I think we should talk." He says.
"Found it!" Jen exclaims, holding the wallet up in her hand.
"Oh good," I say, relief bursting out of me, "let's go back, it's late."
"It was in James's room," she says, smacking her head dramatically. "Where is James anyways?" she asks Max. I stand at the door, ready to leave. Her questions annoy me.
"He's out," Max says simply.
"I don't know," Max shrugs. "Your brother doesn't tell me everything. He just left saying that he'll be back late."
Jen frowns. "What the hell? It's so late already, what is he doing out at this time?"
Max looks somewhat annoyed. He quickly glances at me. "You're out." He says to Jen.
Jen snorts and playfully punches him on the arm. This physical contact makes my stomach cramp down below in disgust.
"Can we go already?" I ask, unable to spend another minute in Max's presence.
Jen looks at me, unable to pin down the problem. "Alright Margo, let's go then."
We leave the house, "Bye Max!" she yells.
"Bye!" Max yells back.
It takes Jen approximately four minutes to figure everything out.
"Oh Jesus!" she says dramatically, catching up to me. "Max is the guy!"
"Yea," I frown, sighing.
She claps a hand to her mouth. "This cannot get any weirder."
"You're telling me?" I say, opening the door to the student center. "I'm getting some coffee."
"Wait, you have to tell me everything," Jen says. "There's no way this isn't-"
"Can I get some coffee first?" I ask, walking up to the counter. "I'll tell you everything, well, most of everything, I promise."
"Alright, alright," Jen says, her face deep in thought, the gears of her brain working quickly.
I get my coffee and sit at a table in the center, feeling especially nervous. I know Jen is going to ask some uncomfortable questions and honestly, there's no way I'll answer all of them. At least, not all truthfully. I really can't give her what I can't even give myself.
"Ok, ok, ok." Jen says as we settle down. "How do you know Max?"
I take a sip of my coffee. "Max and I are neighbours and we went to the same pre-school. Eventually we were hanging out all the time and then our parents got to know each other so we were always at one another's house."
"Oh, and then you became best friends and everything." Jen says, "And then what happened? Why the hell did the two of you, well, started to hate each other?"
This is the point in the story where I don't know what to say. I know the reason, I know it too well, but I've been trying to hide it, to supress it from my memory for so long that the details have become blurry, and I like them that way.
"I started hating him," I say, "because he did something unforgivable towards someone I loved."
"What did he do?"
I sigh, "I can't tell you." Jen bites her lip.
"Well, alright." She says, "Did he start hating you because you wouldn't forgive him for it?"
I think about it for a minute.
"He was really apologetic and depressed about it. We all were." I say, "I don't think he started hating me until he realized that it was the end of our friendship. That I wasn't ever going to forgive him."
"Why didn't you?"
"I told you!" I say, getting a little annoyed. "What he did was a huge deal and it cost-" I stop, take a deep breath and continue, "I can't forgive him for it."
"Sorry Margo," Jen says, cringing at my reaction. "It's hard to fill in the blanks."
I close my eyes, try to relax. "I don't think I want to do this question answer thing anymore."
"Just one more?" Jen begs.
"Alright, one more."
"When did he start dating Jen?"
"Uh, five months ago?" I say, "They knew each other from a summer German course they took before high school. He was always trying to hang out with us, but I told her that I couldn't be around him so he didn't try to hang out with us after that."
"Makes sense." Jen says musingly.
I take a sip of my coffee. "What does?"
"Why he'd want to hang out with the two of you."
"Well yea." I say, "He obviously liked her so he always wanted to hang around. Foreshadows the fact that they're dating now and everything."
Jen gives me a little smile. "That's exactly it."
I know she's not telling me the whole of her conclusions but I know if I ask her, she'll only tell me if I give her more information on what happened to Alex.
We walk back residence, Jen deep in thought and I still trying to finish my coffee. We say our goodnights and I lie down on the bed, thinking. Almost instantly though, I fall asleep.
Saturday morning I am awaken by rapid knocking on the door. I fling it open to discover Jen and Monica, dressed, washed, and ready for breakfast. It's a while before I'm also dressed and washed, and then we head to Mango's for a nice fresh, vegetarian breakfast.
Jen talks excitedly while Monica stares into her glass of orange juice, and yawns frequently. Her eyes are bloodshot and sore.
"What happened?" I ask, cutting Jen off from something she was saying. "You look really tired."
"Oh, I'm exhausted," Monica laughs. "A late night studying."
"Huh," Jen says, catching up quickly. She furrows her brow.
I take a bite of my sandwich, chewing it slowly. Monica looks down at her orange juice again.
I spend the rest of the day doing Algebra practice questions and feeling sorry for myself. In fact, I continue drowning my thoughts of recent events in homework until Monday afternoon when, while grabbing a quick bite before class, I get a phone call from Jen.
The Jen I decided hated me now.
I pick up the phone.
"Before you say anything," Jen says, "I want to apologize for the way I put Max before you and forced you to help me with something I knew you weren't comfortable with."
I am awestruck. Out of the various ways I thought this conversation would go, I couldn't have guessed that Jen would apologize.
"It's alright," I say timidly.
She sighs. "I am just disgusted at how selfish I was being and I just want to say that I'm ready to hear whatever you need to vent and that I'm not asking you to spy on Max anymore or anything."
"No really, it's fine." I say, "It was nothing."
"It was something and I missed out on helping you with it. I just want to know. Is it school? Is it friends?"
"No, it's nothing." I say dismissively.
"Oh, it's a guy, isn't it?"
"What?" I say, "No, no, it's not a guy."
"It is." Jen says. "I know it is."
I sigh, frustrated.
"Tell me about him. I refuse to leave until you tell me everything."
"There's nothing to tell." I say, "And I have class in ten minutes."
"Ten minutes is plenty enough." Jen giggles.
I find myself digging an even deeper hole for myself.
"Fine, it's this guy, umm, named James." I say, thinking of the first name that pops into my head.
"Oooh, that's a sexy name." Jen says. "What does he look like?"
"Uhh, he's got red hair, and freckles and he's tall and dresses very nicely."
Jen laughs. "Of course!"
"Nothing, but what did you want to talk about him?"
"Right," I say, trying to think of something good. "I want to ask him out, and I don't know how."
"That's it?" Jen says, disappointed. "You've asked guys out plenty. I thought it was going to be something good."
"Good? Like what?" I say, annoyed.
"Like, that you got drunk at some party and made out with him and then found out he has a girlfriend or something."
My pulse quickens and I feel faint. There is absolutely no way she could make this up on the spot. She knows what happened between Max and I. He told her everything.
A/N: Thanks so much for reading, reviewing and following this story. I write it when I have a moment away from my studies, so I can't promise consistent posting, but I work very hard to write it nonetheless. Of course it gives me great pleasure to see you enjoying it and I hope you continue with it until the end. There are some surprises down the road too!